Links of the Week: March 14, 2009

group satisfaction
Chart of group satisfaction by size,  from Life With AlacrityConnected and Alienated, Offline and On: Barbara Ganley reflects on the recent Northern Voice conference in a mournful post that resonates strongly with what I was thinking and feeling while I was there: This was a gathering of people who, mostly, had become friends and intimates online, and were now meeting in the ‘real world’ and yet, somehow, felt themselves without much of importance to say, and, worse, unable to say it compellingly. Northern Voice’s mostly-young social networkers seemed to exhibit the same malaise that I see everywhere today, in bars and restaurants and office meetings and even home parties — hordes of people engaged in halting raids on the inarticulate, desperate to make connection and communicate what is important to them, to receive attention and appreciation, all suffering from growing information sickness, and a deep-seated and disquieting sense of anxiety and grief — about the world, their future, and the lack of meaning and purpose in it all. “Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”

Mashups of Staggering Genius: Reviewing some of Michael Wesch‘s great videos, I stumbled on the work of mashup expert Jordan “DJ Earworm” Roseman. He combines audio and video of popular and dance music to create works of art much better than any of the component songs. This guy is freaking brilliant. If you haven’t seen/heard his work, you’re in for a treat. And you can download all his mp3s from his website. Huge fun. Here’s his best stuff:

  • United State of Pop 2008 – Mashup of the Top 25 Billboard Hits of the Year
  • Together as One – Mashup of songs about togetherness by the Beatles, U2, Mariah Carey and Diana Ross (and it works!)
  • No More Gas – Priceless mashup of 11 hip hop and pop songs about cars, stopping and going (can’t get this mashup out of my head)

Why It’s Dangerous to Be a Witch in a Recession: Dave B worries that as times get worse, envy for those who have more will bring out dark and ancient hatreds.

An Idea For Finding Partners: One of the key components of Open Space methodology is the practice of Invitation, of crafting an invitation that will be powerful enough to inspire people to show up at an event (like a networking or partner-connecting event), even at their own expense. Chris Corrigan and Geoff Brown suggest that a great tool for invitation is the ‘trailer’, the compelling multi-media teaser that film studies use to invite people to see their films. How might we craft a great ‘trailer’ to attract the kind of people we were meant to live with, or make a living with?
The City That Ended Hunger: Frances Lappé describes a simple initiative in Belo Horizonte, Brasil that eradicated hunger and reduced poverty by making adequate and healthy food a right for all, and then acting accordingly.

Has Civilization Constipated Our Brains?: An interesting review of the work of psychologist Julian Jaynes, who argued that the way our human brains ‘worked’ was very different before modern civilization culture ‘rewired’ them. As a result, he argued, we have become much poorer artists, less intuitive and perhaps more neurotic. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Lessons About Ego From Ojibway Etymology: Chris Corrigan explains the original meaning of two Ojibway words that speak volumes about their culture, and ours. The word they had to invent for ‘chief’ or ‘leader’ (they had no need for such a word before contact with Europeans), oglimaw is taken from the word for the gentle poplar tree and literally means “one who influences others through kindness“. And the word for ‘all my relations’ – dineamaaganik – actually means “belonging to everything.”

Is Tom Friedman Becoming Progressive?: Several people pointed me to an Op-Ed by the conservative globalization apologist in which he acknowledges that our current economic model is unsustainable and that perhaps the economy recently passed a point of ‘inflection’ with no return to ‘normal’ possible or desirable. There have been a lot of sarcastic responses from progressives, and I tend to think that this ‘awakening’ is just the pretext for Friedman’s next go-with-the-flow book, which I suggested might be called The World Is Flat — Broke.

The Opposite of a ‘Military Academy’?: Robert Koehler writes about the foundations of a new national Peace Academy.

Town in Maine Strips Corporations of ‘Personhood”: A bold move from the town to recognize the insane power that politicians and lawyers have given corporations. The town also passed a community-based declaration of independence asserting its right to self-government and bestowing rights to the natural environment. It’s all part of a struggle with multi-nasty-al corporation Nestle, which wants to privatize and export Maine’s water. Thanks to Tree for the link.

Transition Town Movement Gains Momentum: The UK-originated Transition Town movement, which prepares local communities for self-sufficiency after the End of Oil (and now Climate Collapse as well), is picking up steam in the US, and gained a foothold in Australia. The movement so far is based on more theory than practice, but anything that advances community-based society, economy, permaculture and sufficiency is a step in the right direction. Thanks to Cheryl for the link, and the one that follows.

Our Online Networks Get Bigger But Real Friendships Don’t: A new study from Facebook: “The average [male Facebook user]—one with 120 “friends”—generally responds to the postings of only 7 of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or ‘wall’. An average woman [Facebook user] is slightly more sociable, responding to 10. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only 4 people and the average woman with 6.” This ties into the group satisfaction chart above. Wonder what the numbers would be for bloggers?

France’s 16 Million Lost Acres: Tens of millions of unexploded shells from World War I mean that 16 million acres of French forest remain off-limits to the public to this day. It will take centuries of dangerous work to clear these munitions.

China Worried Over US Debts: As holders of $1T of US indebtedness, China is justifiably worried that either (a) if interest rates spike, the value of these debentures tanks proportionately. And if they’re held to maturity, there’s a chance a collapse of the value of the US dollar will make them worthless anyway. But they’re stuck — if they tried to sell or re-denominate even a tiny portion of these assets, it would precipitate just such a US dollar collapse.

More from Orlov: Rob P points us to a video interview with Dmitri Orlov explaining his argument that bailouts can’t work and inevitably the US economy will collapse just as the Soviet one did. I linked to his main paper on this subject previously.

Not Coming Soon to a TV Station in Your Community: Patti catches an ad that shows that Argentina’s way ahead of us in progressive thinking and social tolerance.

Hawken Joins the Global Collective Rising Consciousness Cabal: This is really sad. This is the Rapture, salvationism (Hawken uses the word ‘salvation’ in this sermon — all he’s missing is the robes), wrapped in new age garb. We are not going to be saved by a collective rising consciousness. This is not in the nature of the human, or any, species. This group-hug we’re-gonna-be-OK crap is dangerous. Like any well-crafted preachy cult rhetoric, it’s seductive. Don’t get sucked in.

Just for Fun:

Facebook users can get a Friend Wheel that shows which of your friends are friends with each other. Too bad most of the people in my networks aren’t on Facebook. I need one of these for my Gmail address book.Bank of America jingle: Before (2006), when they coopted a U2 song, and then Now (2008) after the crash. Really funny satire.

Jean-Séb points us to a cute video on the virtues of art.

Liz Lawley presents a video about a fascinating experiment about collaboration and trust. Thanks to Nancy for the link.

Thoughts for the Week:

From Dave S: “If you want to understand a culture, listen to the grandmothers; the past creates the patterns into which the present and future flow.”From a new poem by Sam Mills:

Now though as circumstances ease
I examine my heart
for its former wilderness
where every filament and pollengrain
sang. Where I stumbled in company with thrumming nightjars.
Where I believe the moon is waiting for me
and the hills
shift sleepily, making room.
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5 Responses to Links of the Week: March 14, 2009

  1. Paris says:

    « Has Civilization Constipated Our Brains? » « Humphrey places the shift in consciousness as having occurred between about 11,000 and 5,000 years ago, which is a little earlier than the date proposed by Jaynes » So the shift between an artisitic but basic language mind to a sophisticated language but artistically dry mind would have happen roughly when people started to live in villages/ small towns sustained by agriculture, husbandry and trade.Therefore I don

  2. Dale Asberry says:

    @DaveDmitry has a blog at @ParisFascinating thesis. Quite in line with

  3. Brutus says:

    “hordes of people engaged in halting raids on the inarticulate, desperate to make connection and communicate what is important to them, to receive attention and appreciation, all suffering from growing information sickness, and a deep-seated and disquieting sense of anxiety and grief — about the world, their future, and the lack of meaning and purpose in it all”Sounds a bit like existential angst, except perhaps for the “information sickness” at its root. It all just breaks my heart and spirit to recognize it only all too clearly, at least among those of us awake enough to bear witness to what’s going on in the world and not so cowardly as to deny or ignore it.As to constipated brains, I read the Jaynes book some time back. It’s a powerful thesis, notwithstanding jibes by Dawkins and Dennett. However, reading the blog review and reading the book don’t match up. Jaynes described a unified worldview, a consciousness that had not yet imaged a distinction between subject and object. In comparison, our modern consciousness, what Morris Berman calls the Cartesian Paradigm, is far more mechanistic, linear, and logical — in short, rational. R.D. Laing’s divided self figures in here, too. But human nature isn’t by any means naturally rational or wholly so. Rather, it’s a habit of mind we’re socialized and trained into with varying degrees of success. To suggest, though, that our former creativity is frozen in some remote historical organization of the mind gives me considerable pause. Is our innate purpose creativity, or is it rationalism? Ask a philosopher, I guess.Regarding the French forest around Verdun, known as the Zone Rouge, it’s an awful legacy (that keeps giving) and another reminder that the Great War was the true transformation to modern warfare and the historical event that ruined 20th-century intellectual development. The article says that “as many as 150 shells fell for every square meter of this battlefield” and “British, French, American, and German armies fired approximately 720 million shells and mortar bombs on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918.” That scale is staggering, and the will and resources to maintain such a level of bombardment is evidence that modern warfare is its own special kind of insanity. Of course, it’s no better when it’s just one button.

  4. According to Chris Corrigan’s article, “oglimaw” is actually “ogiimaw.” Very interesting and enlightening, though!

  5. vera says:

    Mmmm…. what’s more there to say? We need to live differently, and hardly anyone is doing it. Until then, it’s all just yak.

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